Maritime Row: China to Build Garrison on Disputed Islands
China plans to establish a military garrison in the disputed Sansha islands in the South China Sea giving a dangerous turn to its tussle with the Philippines and Vietnam on territorial issues. The three countries have overlapping claims on different parts of the Sansha islands.
The move came after a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) ended in a deadlock on the South China Sea issue at Phnom Penh this week. Asean took the unusual step of not issuing the customary joint communique because of differences on the issue.
The Philippines and Vietnam want Asean to tackle maritime disputes, but China is opposed to outside mediation. “China has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence for its sovereignty over Nansha islands and adjacent waters,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lie.
The People’s Liberation Army has been asked to create a division-level command , which will be “responsible for managing the (Sansha) city’s national defence mobilization, military reserves and carrying out military operations” , state media said.
The new move is also a challenge to the US position in the region because Washington is seen to be supporting the claims of Vietnam and the Philippines on Sansha islands.